Coursey on the Case

This is the best commentary I’ve come across yet concerning the man being arrested for unauthorized wireless access. David Coursey’s take is spot on in my opinon.


…If I were Smith’s attorney, I’d defend my client by pointing out that many people intentionally leave a Wi-Fi access point unsecured so “guests” can use it to access the Internet.

Something makes me think Dinon’s network had an SSID (service set identifier) of “public” or “default” or maybe even “linksys,” all of which I’ve seen pop up on my own computer from time to time. I know of no way that a potential user could determine whether guest access is or isn’t acceptable to the open access point’s owner. …

One response to “Coursey on the Case”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe this to be a vast right wing conspiracy to make people fear prosecution for using community built networks rather than the telecom and cable monopoly structure that pays for their election… 😉 Obviously not really, but I thought your blog needed its first tinfoil hat wearing, paranoid lunatic as soon as possible. Betcha can’t guess who this is. =)

    For this argument, if the SSID is set to “public” I could buy it and a decent lawyer would get him out of it. However if you assume the average user doesn’t know that “linksys” and “default” are not public network SSID’s, you should also assume the average user isn’t going to be able to secure their wireless network…

    The important thing is going to be how the law reads:

    815.06 Offenses against computer users.–

    (1) Whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

    (a) Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network;

    …b, c, d, e, yadda…

    commits an offense against computer users.

    (2)(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c), whoever violates subsection (1) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    I think you can reasonably assume the average WAP user that has not changed their SSID to something obviously public, doesn’t want you in their network. Their foremost reason should be that they are responsible for what you do on their network… Someone downloads a few songs; the homeowner gets sued. Someone decides to crack boxes off of your LAN; you’re responsible. Someone decides to download a few gigabytes of child porn; Guess who’s getting busted for it? I’m willing to take those risks in order to share my access with others, but I don’t believe others should have to from simple ignorance of technology.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use any network you want to use, but I don’t see how it can be legal. A felony for this is just silly, but many felony charges are…

    Which is exactly why we need to build known public community networks ourselves rather than depending on the kindness of strangers or worse yet government subsidized access…

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